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Full text of "A hermit in the Himalayas"

A   HERMIT   IN   THE   HIMALAYAS

bespectacled, bearded and broad-nosed man. An amiable smile
plays around his lips. A pregnant glance at me and, immediately
after, a message.
I understand.

It is the Swami Jnanananda. By the mysterious power possessed
by men of his class, he has projected his mind, his soul, his subtle
body—again the name means nothing to me—to his disciple and
overshadows him. For the moment the two are spiritually one, their
hearts interblent. This process of self-transference may puzzle the
world, but it means the same thing, in a minor degree, as Jesus meant
when he said, "I and my Father are one." This is the true signifi-
cance of discipleship, its inward secret. Not for nothing do the Hindu
Yogi traditions declare self-surrender to the Master to be an essential
qualification, but the foolish have always materialized this and
misunderstood it. All that a real Master requires of his disciple is the
inner identification with himself, not the surrender of material goods.
The latter is the hallmark of charlatanry. The former is the short
path which cuts out all the long and laborious disciplines imposed by
other paths.

For half an hour we both sit in complete siJence, the "over-
shadowed" disciple and I. I endeavour to harmonize myself with
the loftier vibrations which now pervade the place. The master talks
to me, without words and without speech, and I make myself as
sensitive, as receptive, to his message as I can. The outer world may
see nothing but two men sitting still and facing each other, the one
with eyes almost closed and the other with eyes wide open. But I
"see" a sublime presence, whose visitation temporarily lifts me above
iny petty personal self.

Ultimately my companion comes slowly back to his normal
condition, turns his head and then touches his eyes with a handker-
chief. We continue to sit, although no longer facing each other, both
hushed into muteness. When, later, we rise and walk along the valley,
we talk of other matters, but not of this. It is not easy food for
conversation, this experience, and we let it dissolve away unspoken.
Back in the bungalow, I ponder over the short life-sketch of his
teacher which my friend has given me. I picture him taking his seat
at Gangotri for meditation with, perhaps, a deerskin laid upon a
bank of ice, snow falling around and half-burying him, and piercingly
cold winds howling over the pass from Tibet. How has he resisted
the terrible hardship of life in such a benumbing solitude? How has he
endured the whole of a bitter Himalayan winter at the high altitude
of Gangotri, eleven thousand feet at the temple level, but over-
looked by the snow-clad peak which is twenty thousand feet high?
How has he lived through it all, nude and fireless,-to emerge safe

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